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Phylum of Alexandria

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  1. Do you think they become sentient through blood sacrifice? Or it's more like blood serves as oil in their joints so that greenseers can control their movements as well as speak through them? Because the Weirwood at the Black Gate sure seemed like a living, sentient being. It had a real face, not a carved one. It spoke through its mouth, and it recognized speech. (It also had salt water flowing through it. Not sure if that will prove important, but it's at least a curious detail for Weirwoods). I agree that most of what we've seen in Bran's ADWD chapters makes me think of the Greeshka. But the Black Gate scene gives me pause, and makes me wonder if Weirwood trees themselves are like grotesque magical cordyceps fungus: planted inside living young with certain blood properties to get growing in the first place. Why young? Well, it is mentioned in TWOIAF that the CotF sacrificed their young in the legend of the hammer of the waters. Maybe the sacrifice is really to make new Weirwoods. I actually was just ruminating on this topic, which also involves White Walkers and Green Men: We don't know what those Weirwood saplings in the Whispers looked like from underground; perhaps we would see more of a humanoid or CotF type body visible, as the Weirwood has not yet reached its full size and shape. Something to consider. Also: there likely are skinchangers South of the Wall. It's not confirmed, but there are strong hints that Euron Greyjoy is a greenseer, and then by definition would be a skin changer. Perhaps not for nothing then, that rumors about the Farwynds being skinchangers is mentioned shortly before Euron makes his claim at the Kingsmoot.
  2. Dawn was a white sword made from a stone that fell from the sky. The Bloodstone Emperor (who's got some definite Azor Ahai vibes) worshipped a black stone that fell from the sky. Who's to say what Lightbringer's steel looked like before it was set ablaze. But dark magical swords have been described as "drinking the light" more than once, similar to the Asshai's oily black stone, and to the Shade trees. My guess is that Lightbringer's steel was black before it caught fire. And I'd wager that the white stone and black stone fallen from the sky have something to do with the white trees and black trees that populate the planet.
  3. I think that Jon and Dany's ADWD arcs both get at this theme. How well he pulls it off will depend the later books though. Both J & D are currently at the point where they are about to say "to hell with this responsible rule crap" and go all Storybook Hero. Well, maybe Ghost is about to say it. Jon's not saying much at the moment.
  4. I agree they read as flat, but I think part of that is because of Dany's and Barristan's POVs. I also think that the peace deal from the Green Grace, awful as she is, was real. The peace in Mereen was fragile and ugly and not at all satisfying, but I think it was a real peace, with some promise for gradual improvements and reform. The central instigator in messing all of that up was Skahaz, but Barritstan's own biases and need for moral clarity helped him believe what he wanted to hear, and break the peace. My guess is that Dany's victory will have some terrible costs, including the deaths of the cup bearers. And will serve to shape her reputation as a cruel conqueror in Westeros. At this point Dany just wants to go "home," but she will find that all of the problems that she so neatly "solved" in Mereen and then left will also be found in Westeros, with a vengeance. If it does pan out this way, the insufferable Mereenese antagonists helps Martin pull off a sleight of hand: he gets readers to root for Dany as she chooses the path of fire and blood rather than difficult, ugly, messy peace. But then Dany's dreams of being the heroic ruler of Westeros will be then be dashed by our author who believes in the importance of peace, no matter how difficult, ugly, messy, or tedious they may be. "Ruling is hard. This was maybe my answer to Tolkien, whom, as much as I admire him, I do quibble with. Lord of the Rings had a very medieval philosophy: that if the king was a good man, the land would prosper. We look at real history and it’s not that simple. Tolkien can say that Aragorn became king and reigned for a hundred years, and he was wise and good. But Tolkien doesn’t ask the question: What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?" --GRRM Basically, GRRM wants us to think of the Mereenese as orcs for now, in order to elaborate on his larger point about the importance on Aragorn's tax policies and decisions regarding orc infanticide. These details will be just as relevant in Westeros, and perhaps Dany's actions in Mereen will eventually be seen in a different light.
  5. Even if that's true, it's a consequential difference. I feel like the commenter minimizing the Bolton/Stark differences hasn't really thought it through.
  6. I wouldn't totally discount the possibility. TWOIAF really plays up the notion of deep unexplored caves, and even toys with the "absurd" rumor that the caves go to the center of the earth. For all his talents and aspirations, let's not forget that GRRM is a huge fan of early comics, especially the Fantastic Four, and I wouldn't be surprised by him being enamored with the notion of Subterranea, and wanting to put his own slightly more realistic spin on it.
  7. I assume you are talking about the ancient "Kings of Winter" era of Stark history?
  8. The kind of strength that results in the extermination of an entire House for the sake of pride is a very fragile type of strength. Tywin would never inspire a "the North Remembers" kind of loyalty like Ned has done. Instead, his hold on the realm fell to pieces the instant he did.
  9. That alone is a huge difference. Who holds White Harbor would potentially have great consequences in many future avenues.
  10. Being feared and respected is one thing...their rule as Lords of the North being no different from that of the Starks is quite another.
  11. It's significant that it's Varys who brought this rumination on power to the story, because Varys is a powerful player behind the scenes of the game of thrones. The notion of a hidden threat, the person or thing in the background, taken for granted, suddenly rising up and showing their might, that's a recurring theme in GRRM's other writings. We already know that Varys is an under-appreciated threat, but I think he's setting the story up for something like that for the magical plot. I think it will involve Bran, but will likely be related to the vastly under-appreciated power of the Weirwoods for the magical forces that will soon be sending the world into chaos.
  12. I guess I'll just state the obvious since no one else will: Drogon and Balerion the Black Cat
  13. Well, I don't think that GRRM wrote the sandkings or the mudpots as evil. Self-interested, and forces to be reckoned with, for sure, but in Guardians there was a peace that was reached, and at least in Sandkings we know that alliances are possible. Another relevant hivemind is the Greeshka from A Song for Lya, and that one is rather ambiguous as to whether there's an agency at all. Same goes for the mold in The Men at Greywater Station. I wonder if GRRM has read Richard Dawkins' The Extended Phenotype, because it's almost as if he's saying that the notion of agency is basically irrelevant, as long as the behaviors the mold or slime affects in others is beneficial to its survival and reproduction, everything else is just some combination of genetic codes, environmental constraints, and electrochemical reactions. I imagine he'll maintain at least some level of ambiguity with respect to the Weirwoods, as he already seems to be doing. But whether we call it agency/scheming or it's just cold biological self-interest, I think GRRM is setting up the Weirwood as a hugely powerful and influential presence in the land, a real force to be reckoned with. We shouldn't assume that it is necessarily benign or benevolent, even if it is ultimately helpful.
  14. I don't think it's quite weakness, or at least it's not only weakness. If it were just weakness, we would see some sign of Kevan being troubled by Tywin's orders, but acquiescing anyway. Pycelle vs Cersei is a good example of mere weakness. He trembles, he tries to protest, and then he gives in, clearly upset. And yet Pycelle absolutely adored Tywin. Kevan may not have worshipped Tywin as Pycelle did, but he greatly admired his brother, and regarded his viciousness either as strength, or as necessary evils for the greater good. Weakness or no, there's a positive embrace of Tywin's cruelty that says a lot about Kevan himself.
  15. I'm of the mind that all the kraken talk and Lovecraftian foreshadowing will prove to be about the weirwoods after all. The "giants" awoken from the earth will be these gigantic white tree beings animated by Euron's mass blood sacrifice, which might indeed resemble a kraken depending on the vantage point. And so perhaps the Ice Spiders could also be "rooted" in the Weirwoods as well, though I confess I would be disappointed if we don't get giant creepy-crawlies of some kind by the story's end. Weirwood-spiders would indeed be quite like the knobby white spiders that Angel Eyes mentioned.
  16. All true, but it's worth considering what counts as a "fantasy" explanation versus a "sci-fi" one, especially because GRRM often exhibits genre-blending even in works that he labels as a particular genre. For instance, he considers Bitterblooms and In the House of the Worm to be fantasy, and they do read like fantasy, but they're also "secret sci-fi." Both stories feature passing descriptions of advanced technology from the vantage points of characters who interpret everything as magic. I don't think ASOIAF will really be secret sci-fi, but I do think it could feature some crazy "bio-technology," like telekinetic plant creatures pulling down astral bodies and screwing with planetary orbits. He certainly thinks about natural constraints even for his supernatural phenomena, so...just a reminder to take what GRRM says with a grain of salt.
  17. I think it's important for GRRM to have a few outright monsters as kings, because it helps to demonstrate what a terrible system of rule it is. Everyone hopes for a Baelor Breakspear, but you could just as easily get a Aerion Brightflame, a Joffrey, or a Maegor.
  18. Well, compared to Selyse, Jon looks like quite the temptress.
  19. Man, I am behind on my Star Wars lore! I guess? But I am thinking of older GRRM stories, like those found in Dreamsongs. The psychic parasitic substance merging with its devoted hosts is like something from A Song for Lya, mixed with The Monkey Treatment. And the stages of Walker development is a little like Sandkings...
  20. Crowfood's Daughter has postulated that the black oily stone is petrified Shade tree. She has pointed out that Weirwood is known to petrify rather than rot (and it was a "Blackwood" who told us this). She noted the oily quality of Shade of the Evening, its magical parallels with weirwood paste, and the many parallels of the Grey King and the Seastone chair with the greenseers and their weirwoods. This black, oily Seastone Chair is said in TWOIAF to have come from "across the Sunset Sea" (wink wink). Meanwhile, the BSE is known for worshipping a black stone that fell from the sky, not unlike how the Daynes forged a legendary white sword from a stone that fell from the sky. CFD doesn't get into this, but my guess is that the two magical trees are "brothers" of a sort, and perhaps the "blood betrayal" of the BSE signifies some white-tree utilizing humans learning to harness the powers of the black trees, perhaps leading to the birth and control of dragons. If this is the case, then the "Grey King/GoodBrother" stories in TWOIAF suggest that these warring relatives and the humans who worshipped them eventually forged a peace, likely against a colder enemy: their "Other" brother!
  21. The Ice Dragon was the second work I was referring to, about the opposing forces. It was reading that story that I was pretty sure that a trip to the Land of Always Winter by dragon would be a suicide mission. And the fact that Queen Alysanne couldn't get Silverwing to fly beyond the Wall pretty much confirmed it for me.
  22. That's close to a theme that GRRM has used for a previous novel. In that book, the very curse a certain character was trying to eliminate needed to be used in order to for him to be successful. I think at some point Dany will realize that destroying the Heart of Winter will almost certainly kill not just her, but her dragons as well, as they are opposing forces (see another GRRM story for this ending as well). Her real hero's moment will hopefully come when she chooses that path despite knowing that fate. And with that, GRRM can both utilize superhuman powers of destruction and eliminate them by the story's end.
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